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WRTG 105 Venturing Out (Coyne)

Before You Begin

Welcome! 

Some of you may be familiar with the research process, and some of you may be new to the research process. No matter what your experience is with research, I highly encourage you to explore this guide-- you never know where you might learn something new! 

Directed Free Write

Instructions: 

As people come into class, please write down your thoughts about the following prompts (one, a few, or all! Up to you): 

What is an academic library? What purpose does it serve? 

What is a library resource? 

What library experience do you have? 

What research experience do you have? 

We will have a few people share out in about 5 minutes

Getting Started

Things and Terms to Know: 

Research Consultation-- Meet with a librarian and talk through your assignment! Any question you have is the most interesting thing to us. PLEASE schedule an appointment if you hit any hurdles with your work! We are here to help! 

DiscoverUR-- this is the name of our library search function; the way you can locate any item we have in the library! Articles, books, and more (both physical and electronic sources) can be found through this. DiscoverUR searches all the databases we have to find sources that are relevant to your search. 

Database-- These are typically more discipline-specific than DiscoverUR and can be very helpful when you want to search within a specific topic or field of study. Databases collect and organize information, often

Scholarly Source-- these sources consist of journal articles and original research that helps to contribute to the body of knowledge about a particular topic. These articles and research are created by scholars or experts in the field. 

Peer Reviewed-- When a scholarly source is created, peer review is when the new source is verified by team of experts in the field. Experts check the work of other experts, making these one of the most trustworthy sources you can find! 

Interlibrary Loan-- Sometimes the library doesn't have a specific item you want. That's okay! We have an Interlibrary Loan system which means our library ask another library to send that resource along! Whether it's a physical item or an electron scan, we can still get it for you! 

Research Is A Process

Narrow a topic idea
You may not know what your research question is right away. Gather information on the broader topic to explore new possibilities and to help narrow your topic. Brainstorm some search terms and try likely databases to see what scholars are saying about the topic.
Ask yourself: 

  • What subtopics relate to the broader topic? 
  • What questions do these sources raise? 
  • What do you find interesting about the topic

Consider your audience. Who would be interested in the issue? 

From Topic to Research Question
After choosing a topic and gathering background information, add focus with a research question.
Write down a few exploratory questions

  • Ask open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic.
  • Consider the “so what” of your topic. Why does this topic matter to you? Why should it matter to others?
  • Reflect on the questions you have considered. Identify one or two questions you find engaging and which
  • could be explored further through research.

Determine and evaluate your research question

  • What aspect of the more general topic you will explore? (If you're stuck, pull from current event(s), a course lecture or course readings, etc.)
  • Is your research question clear? 
  • Is your research question focused? (Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered within the length/scope of a standard college-level research project).
         ​Unfocused: What is the effect on the environment from global warming?
         Focused: How is glacial melting affecting penguins in Antarctica?
  • Is your research question complex? (Questions shouldn’t have a simple or yes/no answer and should require research and analysis.)

Hypothesize
After you’ve come up with a question, consider the path your answer might take.

  • If you are making an argument, what will you say?
  • Why does your argument matter?
  • How might others challenge your argument?
  • What kind of sources will you need to support your argument?

Adapted from George Mason University Writing Center’s How to write a research question and Indian University Bloomington’s Develop A Research Question.

 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Justina Elmore, University of Rochester

Bringing Your Ideas Together

Your Research Paper is a confluence of the most important points from the research you do! You get to join in on the scholarly conversation and contribute your own analysis to the body of research out there. 

Rather than summarizing the articles, your research paper should aim to pull together the various topics to create a cohesive and original analysis or argument. You are presenting your own idea, using expert and scholarly sources to ground your reasoning.